Since officially turning vegetarian at the beginning of 2017 (I say officially because I spent most of my Australia and South East Asia travels vegetarian before consciously cutting down my meat intake on my return to the UK) I’ve been continuously trying to educate myself on the benefits of a vegetarian lifestyle. Not so much to convince myself it’s the “right” thing to do, but more so to widen my awareness of the bigger picture. Because being vegetarian goes far beyond the want to “not eat animals”.
More recently I’ve been looking more into taking that step into vegan life. I suppose this conscious effort to expand my knowledge on the impacts of a meat based diet has quickly been drip fed facts on animal-based produce in general. There’s so much I didn’t realise before opening myself up to this information. So much that has drastically changed the way I look at the food I’m putting into my body.
And I will never be one of those people that preach for everyone to turn vegetarian. I will never judge anyone for eating meat and I will never intentionally make anyone feel uncomfortable for doing so.
We are all individuals. We all have our own needs and wants in life.
What I do want to do, and what I hope to do through posts on this blog, is to encourage others to simply take the time to explore other options. Even if it simply pushes your awareness… knowledge is power, after all.
Luckily Netflix features a whole host of documentaries to help you do this. The site has reams of environmental and food-based full length documentary films, and I’ve rounded up my top 4 (plus an BBC IPlayer must see – soz for the misleading title) that cover most bases and provide an insightful and inspiring insight into the world of veggie-life.
1. Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret
ph cr: Cowspiracy
I couldn’t do a list and not start with Cowspiracy. This documentary totally blew me away… although that won’t come as a surprise due to its key focus on the environmental impact of animal agriculture.
Its glaring message comes down to how animal agriculture is one of the most destructive industries facing the planet. The documentary describes why it is the leading cause of deforestation, water consumption and pollution, responsible for more greenhouse gases than the transportation industry, and a primary driver of rainforest destruction, species extinction, habitat loss, topsoil erosion, ocean “dead zones,” and virtually every other environmental ill.
It also, perhaps most surprisingly, brings attention to the international refusal amongst environmental groups worldwide to address this.
But it isn’t all doom and gloom. The documentary also rounds off with an alternative: a path to global sustainability for a growing population.
ph cr: Plant based recipes
Vegucated follows three meat and cheese loving New Yorkers as they embark on a 6 week challenge to go totally vegan.
Compared to other vegan documentaries, it’s pretty lighthearted. Although it does give a disturbing insight into the food industry (with some pretty uncomfortable scenes) it mostly focuses on the trio’s journey as they realise that, actually, vegan life isn’t all that crazy.
They’re taken to farms (both organic and factory) and educated on the reality of animal-based food production and why it’s paramount to really think about where your food is coming from.
I’d recommend this one for those wondering how difficult a vegan transition is on lifestyle: the film shows snippets of the three as they take to family occasions, holidays and meals out. It’s these situations that concern me personally when I think of turning 100% vegan. This documentary reduced those concerns, a little at least.
A good introduction to vegan living with a strong, uplifting message attached.
3. Food inc.
ph cr: PBS
Food inc gets down and dirty with exactly what is in our food and how little we really know about the potentially life threatening things we’re unintentionally putting into our bodies. Yes the documentary draws in on the inhumane treatment of factory farmed animals, but its focal point is the dangers of GMOs and the environmental implications of mass meat production.
It educates on the role animal-based food has on obesity, cancer and diabetes and unveils some pretty shocking facts on e-coli. Basically? It’s the whole, gritty picture.
4. Fork Over Knives.
ph cr: The Vegan Road
Fork Over Knives is all over the health angle on meat consumption. It argues how most, if not all, degenerative diseases can be controlled (or even reversed) by cutting out animal-based and processed foods.
Like Food inc, it pulls together evidence on diabetes and heart disease presenting the case that a whole food, plant based diet could be the primary approach to treat many of the serious ailments associated with them. It follows a range of individuals with such illnesses (as well as someone packed to the brink with drug prescriptions) and tracks their health improvements as they move to a carefully controlled diet away from these food types.
It’s packed full of research and stats with nutritional scientists and pioneering researches pleading their findings and beliefs. A heavy going documentary, this is a great one for anyone looking to fully dig beneath the surface.
ph cr: BBC
Needless to say, all the above are pretty exhausting if taken in at the same time. I mean, educating yourself is crucial. And I adore it. But you can find yourself a tad deflated by the end knowing we may never find ourselves in a time when everyone is on the same page. You almost find yourself feeling defeated.
So why not end on a high? And okay, this isn’t a Netflix jobby but you can catch it on BBC IPlayer. Created by comedy hero Simon Amstell, Carnage is a mockumentary around a utopian future where society has all gone the big V.
Despite being laugh out loud funny (my favourite bit had to be the AA style meeting where everyone had to call out a cheese they had eaten in their youth whilst fighting breakdowns), the underlying message is seriously inspiring and shows a glimmer of hope for the future (albeit, the far far future…).
For something more lighthearted, this is the number 1.
Would you add any to the list? Let me know in the comments below!